Friday, December 7, 2012

Great Design System

"Great Design System" is the title of a recent project. The "Design" refers to architectural design, not magazine, newspaper, blog, or Web site design, which is my usual bread and butter. It has been fascinating work and I have really learned a lot.

I'm working with Dylan Chappell Architects, and we have put together a series of books, such as "How to Hire a Contractor," "How to Hire an Architect," and similarly themed pieces. Check the books out at DCA's Web site. They are fun to read and very informative (if I do say so myself!). Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Bet

Want to know what others are saying about you? Googling yourself is one way to start finding out. Doing a search on oneself is common advice in social media seminars and how-to articles. So, I thought I’d check myself out this morning, and imagine my surprise when I came across this:

Yes, I am in a movie. Can you believe it? The movie is "The Bet." I play a waitress. I think I have the fewest lines in the movie, which is the perfect way to approach your first role in a feature movie. "The Bet" is directed by Finola Hughes and is set in Santa Barbara. It is set to premier in March 2013.

I need to get cracking on filling in my IMBd page. Got to get a good headshot of myself. Maybe actually hire someone to take the picture, i.e. to make me look far better than I do in real life, rather than imposing on my friends or family.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sub-text of My Not Texting

Given the stereotype of a writer – reclusive, dark, brooding, and lugubrious – I’m rather social and cheerful. Sure, I need my solitude to write, but I also need to interact with people. The interaction offers me a needed human connection. Additionally, more frequently than not, it gives me inspiration.

Given my social and cheerful nature, many people are surprised to learn I don’t text. I know how to text. I just don’t have texting as part of my cell phone service package.

Allow me to tell you my reasons why.

1. I can’t stomach the thought of dealing with the hassle of changing the contract.

2. For a number of years I have been deluding myself with how "I’m going to upgrade to an iPhone and then I can text” and it is very difficult to change a lifestyle of denial.

3. Though cell phones are a wonderful convenience, I also find them somewhat of a nuisance. Texting seems tenfold. Just because it is not audible does not make it any less of an interruption.

I know I’ll be texting soon enough; otherwise I’ll be as annoying as those who don’t email or who insist upon sending faxes rather than email. But I think I’ll be text-free for a little longer in an effort to remain the social and cheerful writer I am.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Carpinteria Magazine

Hot off the press - Carpinteria Magazine is ready for reading

The latest issue of Carpinteria Magazine is ready for reading.Lots of special stories and profiles of neighbors and friends. Find out what it was like to grow up in the town 70 years ago, learn about new places to shop for groceries (you'll be surprised), meet the mastermind(s) behind Angels Antiques on Carpinteria Avenue, and lots more.

Too far away to pick up a copy. No problem, read it online at

A free copy of Carpinteria Magazine can be picked up at advertiser locations around town, such as Corktree Cellars, Giannfranco's Trattoria, Roxanne's - A Wish & a Dream, Curious Cup Bookstore, Porch, and the list goes on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Panel Says

It was a honor to be part of a recent panel discussion at the last Santa Barbara chapter meeting of Women in Communication. I was invited to participate thanks to my role as editor of "Carpinteria Magazine."

Myself and three other local magazine editors were part of the program “Magazine Publishing and Writing in a 2.0 World,” which was held at Antioch University in downtown Santa Barbara. The panel’s focus was to share insights on publication trends, business advantages, and strategic challenges facing today’s magazine industry. Read more about it in Coastal View News (turn to page 20).

Photo by r.s.thurston photography. From left are Lynn K. Jones, president of the Santa Barbara chapter of Women in Communication; Nansie Chapman, editor of “Family Life Magazine;” Maria Streshinsky, editor of “Pacific Standard;” moi; Sally Barr, editor of “MUSIC! The Sounds of Santa Barbara;” Leslie Dinaberg, editor of “Santa Barbara SEASONS;” and Leslie Westbrook the program moderator.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Steal This Book

I'm much better at meeting someone else's deadline than my own. That's a good thing when it comes to retaining clients. It's a bad thing when I need to keep the creative juices flowing in order to keep the clients happy. My deadlines usually are related to the things I want to get done that don't pay anything in dollars and cents.

An important part of my job is keeping an eye out for inspiration. (Equally important is tapping the inspiration!) Needless to say I was quite happy to come across the little book "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon. It's a fun and easy read.

Kleon gives 10 ways to unlock creativity. I really like the fact that the book is simply worded and doesn't reveal anything new. A review of the basics, which, according to my dad, is something that professionals do all the time. My dad was referring to professional athletes and movie stars, people like that. I was about 10 at the time but his words stayed with me. It's about time I put them into practice.

My biggest challenge is #9, Be Boring (It's the only way to get work done.). I really need to work on that. Doing the necessary mundane things and showing up regularly is not my forte. I'll work on it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

When all else fails ... Eat

I believe it was the “Artist’s Way” where Julia Cameron wrote that she bakes a cake when she is feeling stuck with her writing, when she needs a break. The baking the cake part is an example of how leaving the task at hand and doing something else for a bit just may help foster a rush of creativity. So, I thought I’d give it a try.

Hence, Amy’s Sliders were born. Well, that’s what my husband christened them. The sliders are turkey burgers on a sesame bun with avocado, tomato, lettuce, grilled onion, Cheddar cheese, and dill pickle slices. The bun was lightly toasted and spread with spicy mustard.

I must say, they were delicious, and they were a welcome diversion from the looming deadline. But, did the sliders stimulate a fountain of creativity? No, not really. I do think, however, that putting together a good dinner was better than hanging out at my keyboard and slugging back beers.

Oh, why is Cheddar capitalized in Cheddar cheese, you may ask. Because it is the name of a place, i.e. a proper noun, like chicken Kiev, French fry, Boston cream pie, and the like.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More Cat Chat

Quick update on National Feral Cat Day

First, don't panic. The day remains Oct. 16. The update I want to give is that a letter to the editor from Randi Fairbrother, president and founder of Catalyst for Cats, has been posted to Click on this link and read it.

I can't take credit for writing the letter. It is from the Alley Cat Allies publicity kit. I can take credit, however, for making it Catalyst-specific and sending it out. Another writer-related piece of volunteer work.

This photo is of a couple of the cats from a colony we maintain. All the cats are spayed/neutered, healthy, well fed, and seem to be enjoying life. The colony will die out, and thousands of unwanted kittens didn't litter the landscape.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Batter Up!

Bet you didn't know I am related to baseball royalty. Related by marriage, that is. My husband's grandfather played in the Mexican Leagues back in the day (back in the day when color barriers ruled the nation).

The history of the Mexican League has been and is continuing to be documented in the “Mexican-American Baseball: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues” project. My husband is speaking on a panel this Sunday, Sept. 30 from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Carpinteria Woman's Club, 1059 Vallecito in Carpinteria. He'll speak on the influence of baseball in his life and his family's life.

It's funny how he got involved in the project. He was assigned a story for the Coastal View News on the subject. One thing led to another, and now his grandfather, along with his fellow ballplayers, is getting some long overdue, albeit posthumously, recognition.

I think the family story would make a great screenplay. Maybe that is a project my husband and I can do together.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Celebrate National Feral Cat Day on Oct. 16

No Kitty, No Tickee
Wouldn't that be the day? A day when there are no unwanted kittens -- or any unwanted animal for that matter -- and we didn't have to sell raffle tickets to raise money to spay and neuter cats. Until that day, I'll continue helping out with Catalyst for Cats, a Santa Barbara County-based organization dedicated to making every cat a wanted cat. I use my writing skills to help with publicity.

Catalyst is hosting its annual "Cat's Meow Raffle" on Oct. 16, which happens to be National Feral Cat, at Coffee Cat, located at 1201 Anacapa St. in downtown Santa Barbara. The fun begins at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $5 each or $30 for a book of 7 tickets. Call Belinda Burns at (805) 688-6359 for tickets. If you aren't the gambling type, you can go ahead and send a donation to Catalyst for Cats, PO Box 30331, Santa Barbara, CA 93130.

Here are the prizes:
*El Rancho Marketplace - Lunch & Wine Picnic for Six at a Santa Ynez Valley Winery
*Historic Upham Hotel - Santa Barbara Midweek Getaway, One Night Stay for 2 People
*Lemos Feed & Pet Supply – Feline Fun Gift Basket
*Cat House Hotel – $50 gift certificate for goods or services at this hotel for felines
*Commissioned Original Painting by Kay Neola McWilliams of your animal - 16” x 20” unframed ($500 value)

On the left is the Catalyst for Cats logo. The adult cat's tipped ear indicates the feline has been "fixed."

National Feral Cat Day is facilitated by Alley Cat Allies, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sign of the Times (?)

I’m on a business trip of sorts. Packed up my office and am working out of my sister-in-law’s place. She and her husband are river rafting through the Grand Canyon, for which they had to win a lottery and wait a year or something like that, so it is a pretty big deal.

Anyway, look at the photo of the sign posted near my temporary office, i.e. their home. It is rife with errors. And, I’m not talking about grammar gaffes that only snotty-nosed, stick-up-their-butts English majors would harp on [preposition at end of sentence intended!]. I’m talking about didn’t anyone proof this? Who is responsible for this? How much do those signs cost? And, what is the salary of the person responsible for this?

I was going to call the phone number listed and ask about work as a proofreader, but my real motivation for calling was to be annoying. So, I dropped the idea.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Easier to edit than to write

For most of us, it is much easier to edit or critique a piece of writing than to write it. The theory probably holds true for most professions and/or industries. Take signage. Take a look at the picture. Now, allow me to explain.

Went to pick up a friend from the hospital (she's fine!). I've seen the hospital from the road before but have had the good fortune to not have to visit. So, as I'm driving the relatively busy street, I'm on tactical alert for signs. I see the sign (photo at right) and erroneously deduce that I should go to the driveway that has the arrow on the sign reading "Main Entrance."

See, from the relatively busy street I didn't notice the "Wrong Way" sign right across from the sign directing the way to the hospital's main entrance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saving Soul

Along with my writing, clients pay me for my advice or expertise. I wouldn't say they always defer to what I say, but they do give my ideas consideration. Sometimes I find it challenging to go out on a limb and tell them what I really think, rather than play it safe and temper my thoughts by making them more mainstream.

A few years ago, and before I went "out on my own," a client brought in a mock-up of an ad. See photo at right. The production team took the mock-up, used a pretty font, some clip art, and made a perfectly nice and attractive ad. I was very disappointed.

I thought keeping the mock-up as the ad would have been a much better way to attract attention. It's kind of like folk art (there's that going out on a limb again!). It really is a beautiful piece, isn't it? Don't you think it would have attracted a lot of attention? Jumped off the page amid a sea of similar pretty font + clip art ads? Too bad it got gentrified and the soul sucked out of it. Very Disney (in the bad way).

There is a happy ending, though. The mock-up is framed and hanging in my kitchen. I still love it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

No, thank you, Marilyn!

I'm kind of chickenhearted once a project is off the press. I'm afraid I'll find a mistake. And, unlike this here blog, once something is printed there's no going back and fixing things.

That's why this thank-you card gave double its pleasure. Receiving a card via snail mail is good news enough, but one thanking you for doing your job? Well, I just don't know what to say about that.

I do know, however, that sending someone a card is a really nice thing to do, and I'll make sure I do it more often.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Check Out My New Office

“The Cat’s Away, the Dog Will Play” was a tentative title for this post. That’s because of Zoe, the Goldendoodle who shares office space with me. She was the selling point of the new space, which I moved into last week. See her on the right; she sitting in front of my new workspace.

So far, the new digs are working out splendidly. It’s like having a fresh start. Only the necessary items made the move. Of course, that means all the old stuff is waiting to be sorted, filed, shelved, or tossed at the old place, i.e. my home. That’s OK. High time to deal with that stuff anyway.

You know what I mean: piles of obsolete documents, thick and heavy reports that are available online, and various ticket stubs, receipts, or other assorted memorabilia. This sort of housecleaning is a nuisance, but the results are well worth it. Plus, I really realize how I'm not as organized as I either once was or thought I once was.

Nella now has her own office. I had been crowding her space for a while, so I found a different situation.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NPR Interview

As posted on an earlier blog, I'm helping jazz musician Solvei with publicity for her upcoming show on Saturday at the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria. This morning Lance Orozco (no relation to me!) interviewed her for a segment on KCLU, the local NPR station.

It was fun to observe. The setting was casual -- Libbey Park in Ojai. The interview will air tomorrow or Friday. In Ventura, KCLU can be found at 88.3FM and in Santa Barbara at 102.3FM and 1340AM. Tune in if you can. If not, visit to listen.

The photo at right is Lance with the microphone and Solvei.

Come to the concert on Saturday night. In case you need reminding on any of the details, see the photo below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One Writer, Many Hats

Not only did I write the press releases and calendar listings for Solvei's show on June 9 at the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria, I am playing more of a front person role in the publicity game.

It's stretching out of my comfort zone, but that's always good for me. I am contacting the media and seeing if I can get some coverage for her upcoming concert. Truly, I am uncomfortable on the phone -- and it shows. (Ah,another reason why writing is my chosen profession.)

I really do like the entrepreneurial aspects of my work. It's never ever boring and I am always challenged. Oh, if you happen to be in the area on June 9, please come to Solvei's show. It is going to be a knockout!

The poster on the right has particulars on Solvei's show. For more information visit or

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New issue of Carpinteria Magazine has hit the streets!

Carpinteria Magazine is here and ready to read. Carpinterians can find a copy all over town. Or, visit the Web site, If I do say so myself, the magazine is gorgeous and filled with very interesting stories.

Working on the magazine is fun and seeing the finished product is always so satisfying. Carpinteria, as any town, has so many interesting people and so many interesting stories. Because of that deciding on what stories can be difficult. A good kind of difficult, though.

Already work has begun on the next issue. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Where Can I Reach You?

I'm old enough to remember when answering machines were a new thing. I'm talking about answering machines with actual cassette tapes hooked up to rotary dial phones. Yeah, it wasn't that long ago. I think a lot of people are old enough to remember those days.

And, let me tell you, those 25-pound machines weren't all that welcome. People hanging up, family members giving grief about relatives owning machine, and similar non-positive feedback was common.

I believe the idea behind the contraption being convenience. Leave a message, someone calls you back. Easy enough. So committed to convenience the manufacturers were that the cassette tape went digital, the machine got smaller, remote access was available ...

Well, how quickly we forget. Look at the note with hints on the best way to reach a colleague. Convenience isn't even part of this equation. This is hilarious!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Journaling the Journey

Journaling the Journey is the name of a workshop I lead. As part of the Carp Cares for Youth summer program Teen Extrema, It is designed for teens ages 13 to 18 and held during the summer. This year's dates are July 9, 11, 16, and 18. We'll be meeting in the Community Room at the Curious Cup Bookstore, 929 Linden Ave. in downtown Carpinteria.

The Community Room has a fantastic, huge worktable. This is a good thing because in the workshop we make books. The participants keep the books and use them as journals -- or that's the intention. Here's the official course description:
Journaling the Journey is about writing, drawing, coloring, doodling, scribbling, pasting, gluing, binding, cutting, shaping, deciding, dreaming, thinking, and doing. With a focus on print journals (as opposed to new media/digital journals) participants will create a journal with a theme of their choice (diary, school, future plans, family vacation, pets, life on the soccer field, music, etc.)

Last year's class was a lot of fun. I was surprised at the enthusiasm the kids had. They made some really beautiful books.

BTW, Carpinteria Cares for Youth is a fantastic organization. It describes itself as a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to providing better resources and services to the youth of Carpinteria. Check out their Web site:

The above picture is a picture of students busy making books during last year's workshop.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Portable Office

No, the picture isn't crooked. That's the view from "my office" on Waikiki Beach." Yes, Waikiki as in Honolulu, Hawaii. I packed up my office (phone, laptop, cute folder full of scribbled notes, and my even cuter pencil bag) and tagged along with my sister to our 50th state. She had a conference to attend,if I paid for airfare I could bunk with her and attend some vendor-sponsored parties.

Yes, I actually worked. Each morning as she trotted off to the conference via shuttle bus, I crossed the street to buy an iced coffee at McDonald's and use the "free" wireless Internet. The hotel charged $16/day for Internet. I drew my line in the sand. Sixteen dollars a day for Internet on top of an already overpriced hotel room? Why, that's a matter of principle with me! McDonald's really may salvage its reputation with the iced coffee and free Internet thing. Anyway, I spent the mornings working at McDonald's and the afternoons at my sandy office with the view of the palm tree.

"Wireless Coconut." Have you heard that term? It actually predates the Internet. It is a Hawaiian term for the rumor mill, water cooler talk, Koffee Klatch stuff. Our friend Ann, who was born in Hawaii and lives there, used it in conversation when she was showing the off-Waikiki Honolulu. It's a great term, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Long Time, No Write

I feel funny getting back on the ol' blog after such a long time. Kind of embarrassed funny, like I should be better about posting. Well, I've been trying to conquer the "new media" part of my writing empire, and let me tell you, it's a quagmire of Pentagonal proportions! I can report that I have a Web site up and running, but it still needs a lot of work. And, we're working on that. Wait a couple of weeks before checking it out.

And, I promise, along with the new and improved Web site, there'll be a new and improved photo of me. (I'm not saying I'll be new and improved, mind you ... )